tv PBS News Hour PBS May 28, 2012 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: president obama and mitt romney both honored the nation's fallen on this memorial day taking time out from the campaign. good evening, i'm judy woodruff. >> suarez: and i'm ray suarez. on the "newshour" tonight, we report on the ceremonies at arlington national cemetery and at the veterans museum in san diego. then, we assess the state of the presidential race with christina bellantoni and stu rothenberg. >> woodruff: we get the latest on the weekend massacre in syria, as united nations envoy kofi annan calls on both sides to lay down their guns. >> suarez: margaret warner examines a scandal at the vatican where the pope's butler has been arrested and a probe continues into the leaks of confidential documents.
>> woodruff: plus, we have two stories about the aftermath of war. a look at a denver program that preps returning veterans for jobs. >> when you come back here, this world is just completely different world. it's difficult. most college students, they are discovering who they are, what they want to do, i had already known that. >> suarez: and jeffrey brown interviews a filmmaker who chronicled one wounded marine's journey from the frontlines in afghanistan to civilian life in north carolina. >> i actually brought in a lot of my own personal experiences of going to war and coming home from it and what i realized was that the fighting doesn't end when these men come back, it just continues in a different way. >> woodruff: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> this is the at&t network-- a living, breathing intelligence bringing people together to bring new ideas to life.
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>> woodruff: americans remembered generations of war dead today. the presidential candidates joined the observances, but the somber significance of the occasion put outright politicking on hold. ( playing "taps" ) for the commander in chief, it was a day of solemn traditions, beginning with his appearance at arlington national cemetery in virginia. president obama laid the wreath at the tomb of the unknowns, then evoked the sacrifice of the many thousands interred there. >> whenever revolution needed to be waged and a union needed to be saved they left their homes and took up arms for the sake of an idea. from the jungles of vietnam to the mountains of afghanistan they stepped forward and answered the call. >> woodruff: the president said
sending troops to battle was the most wrenching decision he's had to make. but he said the long years of war in iraq and afghanistan are closing. >> this memorial day marks another milestone. for the first time in nine years americans are not fighting and dying in iraq. ( applause ) we are winding down the war in afghanistan and our troops will continue to come home. ( applause ) >> woodruff: at a separate event at the vietnam veterans memorial, the president said those who fought in vietnam were sometimes denigrated. he called it a "national shame". mr. obama's schedule also included an afternoon event at the vietnam veterans memorial in washington. the presumptive republican presidential nominee, mitt romney, attended a memorial day tribute in san diego. he was joined by the g.o.p.'s 2008 nominee, arizona senator john mccain-- a vietnam war veteran. like the president, romney also >> today, we honor those who've served.
we dedicate ourselves to strength and to preserving the freedom for which they gave their lives and walked in harms way. and as the greatest generation sees its light slowly fading, our duty is to take up the torch they carried so gallantly, so bravely, with such great sacrifice. >> woodruff: in this election year, both campaigns are paying especially close attention to those who've worn the uniform. a new gallup poll released today found veterans favor romney by a 58% to 34% margin. romney returns to the campaign trail tomorrow in colorado and nevada, while the president remains in washington. romney returns to the campaign trail tomorrow in colorado and nevada, while the president remains in washington. and as romney heads to those two key swing states, we assess the presidential contest. for that we are joined by "newshour" political editor christina bellantoni and stuart rothenberg of the rothenberg political report, also a columnist for "roll call."
thank you both for being here on this memorial day. only five months to go. tomorrow is really the kick-off of the summer campaign season. i want both of you to tell me how you see the state of this race right now. stu, what does it look like to you. >> two things. i look at the fundamentals, how states have performed in the past, how country has gone. i look at where we are right now with the economy, the reputation of the parties, the president's standing. it looks like a real horse race. i no everybody is saying it. that doesn't mean it can't possibly be true. i think the race is very close. it's going to be decided by what happens between now and november. so events are really going to matter and how the two candidates respond to them. >> woodruff: christina, what does it look hike? >> you're going to see dozens and dozens of polls over the next five months. some of them are going to be a little bit more important than others. one of the things that you're seeing nationally is since it's been clear that mitt romney is the presumptive republican nominee here he's starting to inch up a little bit on the president in national perspective. but in the battle ground states
where the president's team has really invested a lot of money in their grown game, their campaign infrastructure, hiring a lot of people and registering voters you're seeing it a little bit stronger for the president in some of them and then romney having a little bit of ground to make up. >> woodruff: speaking of those battle grounds states, if you look at the map of the united states -- and we just happen to have our vote 2012 map center right here -- to show everybody, you see those states in blue that are considered either solidly or leaning democratic. in red, we're showing the stateg republican. and then yellow, eight states that are toss-ups. so, stu, let's talk about those. let's start on the east coast and work our way west with florida which keeps everybody guessing. at least at this stage. of the campaign. >> right. certainly as it did in 2000. there's a recent poll that has the president up by four points, 48 to 44. that's among registered voters. if you look historically at florida it performs more
republican as a whole. that is a few points more republican. although president obama won it last time he didn't win it by anything close to the over seven points he won nationally. i think you have to look at florida in a number of ways. hispanics are important. senior citizens, of course. but really florida is three states in one. north florida performs the way the south does. it's conservative. south florida tick tarly the the miami portion of the state is more like new jersey. so the florida is going to be determined probably by swing voters in the central part of the belt stretching from orlando all the way over to tampa-st. pete. >> woodruff: which we hear about in every election. let's move north to virginia. >> virginia is the battle ground of all battle grounds. it voted democratic in 2008 but it hadn't since 1964. this was a big win for barack obama in 2008. they did that in part by targeting a lot of the expanding suburbs in the washington area in northern virginia.
annals looking at this military region, hampton roads annals targeting younger voters and the changing dem krasks of virginia. this is something you're going to see this, both campaigns put a lot of energy and resources there. it's very easy for the president to cross over in virginia and campaign here. you saw him hold one of his first re-election rallies in richmond. you're going to see a lot more there. mitt romney has made very clear he's going to contest here. when you look at where these campaigns are advertising, virginia is almost always on the list for the campaigns and the super pacs that are backing them. >> woodruff: a state the republicans could almost take for granted but not anymore. let's turn to the midwest, stu, and quickly look at three states there starting with ohio. >> so there's a recent nbc poll that shows the president up by five points thole only in the mid 40s against mitt romney. ohio went for bush in 2000 and 2004 and went for president obama not the way it did nationally. nationally the president won by seven. ohio was about 4.5 points.
i think one of the interesting things about ohio is the economic recovery. the auto industry and the over y'all sense that is economy is coming back. will that help the president enough to help him carry a state, that all things being equal -- and they never are -- the republicans have a slight advantage. >> woodruff: and iowa. this is a really interesting state because it has gone for both parties over the presidential years. obviously it's very near and dear to president obama's heart because it is where he was able to start his path to the democratic nomination in 2008 by winning the caucuses. he put a lot of investment in getting the young college voters in that state get engaged for him. he campaigned there many times. he sent the vice president there many times. it's an interesting state because the economy is a little bit better in iowa than it is in other parts of the country. you're also seeing a pretty strong republican effort in some of the ballot races. you have competitive congressional races and seeing a lot of advertising at that level. this is not a state that the
obama campaign can take for granted this year. >> woodruff: to wisconsin, stu, which is a state that also has a very closely watched recall. >> governor scott walker facing a recall. fascinating state, judy. in 2000 and 2004, this state went democratic by each time less than one half of one percent. yet in 2008 it blew open. the president won it by almost 14 percentage points. the question is now, is it going to come back? some of these upper midwest states like good government candidates who talk about bringing the country together. i think the thing to watch here is white working class voters and to what extent are they dissatisfied with the economy. >> woodruff: we're going to touch just very briefly now on these last few states we want to talk about. new hampshire, only four electoral votes but in a close race that could matter. >> especially when you've got mitt romney who was the governor of massachusetts. he owns property in new hampshire. he spent a lot of time there.
he's beloved by a lot of these residents and it has a lot of independent streak. it backed president obama in 2008 but they do like to make a little bit of a switch here. >> woodruff: moving out west, colorado? >> i would say the two keys here are hispanics and sub urban voters. this is the west but not the west like wyoming or arizona or montana. there are a whole bunch of sub sub urban voters around theson ver area and the hispanic turnout. >> woodruff: and the last of these swing states is nevada. >> the hispanic turnout is very, very important in this race. you've also got the president was able to activate a very strong democratic base in that state in 2008. he helped senator... senate majority leader harry reid win re-election in 2010 with that. # we've noticed these campaigns are not advertising there in part because the president is standing strong. >> woodruff: let's look at the map again and talk quickly about what the president and what governor romney have to do to get to that 270 which is what they need. several paths to... for the president but maybe only a few
for governor romney. >> that's true. romney must win ohio and florida. and then i think the key that's going to come down to wisconsin, virginia, colorado. i think virginia is going to be a crucial state. i don't say that just because we're located in virginia at the moment. you know, when you do the math, if the republicans win the states that they have in the past, if romney wins them it's going to come down to a handful of states. the president has a lot more opportunities if you can pick off ohio, for example, he makes it impossible for mitt romney to win. >> woodruff: last word. you can take a look on our map center basically if the president is able to win all of these states he wins re-election fairly easily. but if might romney is able to pick off just a few, he's going to need a lot more. he's going to run run the table with some of these states to make this happen. >> woodruff: our viewers can go online to our website, look at this map. you can play with it. you can see what it means when
different states go romney or obama. you can see the different paths. make it turn out any way you want. is that right? >> sure. unlike in november when it really counts. >> woodruff: christina bellantoni, stu rothenberg, thank you both. >> thank you. >> suarez: still to come on the "newshour": the massacre in syria; the leaks at the vatican; the transition to civilian life for veterans and one marine's journey to afghanistan and back. but first, the other news of the day. here's kwame holman. >> holman: a u.s. marine killed in afghanistan this year was the focus of memorial day observances there. sergeant william stacey was on his fourth deployment when he died in a bombing. he left a letter, to be read in the event of his death. in it, he wrote, "if my life brings the safety of a child who will one day change the world, then i know that it was all worth it." the commander of nato forces in afghanistan marine general john allen said today the words speak resoundingly.
>> and, while our brothers and sisters fell in a place far from home, far from their families, the values for which they stood and for which they lived and for which they died occupy an enduring place in our hearts. >> holman: three nato troops were killed in afghanistan today and three others over the weekend. that brings the total nato deaths to 172 this year. there's word that iranian operatives were linked to an assassination plot against u.s. embassy officials in the middle east. the "washington post" reported today that american diplomats in azerbaijan were warned last november. the report cited unnamed u.s. officials for the information. the attacks never took place. but the post account said phone records and other evidence tied the conspiracy to iran and its ally hezbollah, in lebanon. former british prime minister tony blair acknowledged today he avoided confronting media barons, like rupert murdoch, during his ten years in power. but, he denied making any deal
to win murdoch's backing. blair testified as part of the ongoing leveson inquiry into british media standards. we have a report from gary gibbon of "independent television news." reporter: tony blair told lord justice leveson things had got too close between politicians and the media bosses, but there had been no deal. >> there was no deal on issues to do with the media with rupert murdoch or indeed with anybody else, either express or implied. to be fair he never saw such a thing. >> reporter: knowny... tony blair was asked why... just before coming to office. he said he decided the back lash that would have brought would have left no time for more important policies like health and education. >> i never felt that i could risk putting all of that to one side to fight this. now, that's the political judgment in a way that you have to make. so some people would say to
me -- and some of them did say -- look, you can do this along with everything else. i used to say to them, you're being completely unrealistic about this. >> reporter: tony blair said he never changed his policies to fit in with rupert murdoch's views. a protestor burst into the courtroom to attack tony blair other over the iraq war. he was arrested on suspicion of breach of the peace. tony blair said the time had now come for more regulation of the media. david cameron should be supported by politicians from all parties if he brings forward reforms when the inquiry has finished. >> holman: in egypt, official tallies confirmed the field for next month's presidential runoff. muslim brotherhood candidate mohamed mursi will face ahmed shafiq, the last prime minister under ousted president hosni mubarak. the electoral commission rejected allegations of fraud in last week's first round of balloting. what was left of tropical storm beryl soaked parts of georgia and florida today. the storm weakened into a
tropical depression after making landfall just after midnight. but it brought sustained winds of nearly 70 miles an hour, along with bands of driving rain. no major damage was reported, beyond power outages. in new mexico, the trouble is not enough rain. a massive wildfire in the southwestern part of the state has burned across 190 square miles since last week. firefighters worked to contain the blaze on sunday, helped by lighter winds. they built a protection line around the nearest buildings, the privately owned ghost town of mogollon. and in michigan's upper peninsula, a wildfire on the edge of lake superior has blackened nearly 32 square miles and destroyed nearly 100 buildings. it started with a lightning strike last week. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to ray. >> suarez: outrage grew in the middle east and around the world after the weekend killings in syria. special u.n. envoy kofi annan arrived in damascus today and
minced no words about friday's massacre. >> i've come to syria at a i am personally shocked and horrified by the tragic incident in houla two days ago, which took so many innocent lives-- children, women and men. this was an appalling crime and the security council has rightly condemned it. >> suarez: houla is a collection of villages northwest of homs. the violence there erupted after anti-government protests. the opposition said this video showed heavy artillery and tank fire late on friday. in the aftermath, mass graves were lined with the bodies of 108 victims. u.n. observers reported more than half were women and children. >> we are now facing a genocide
and mass displacement in syria. somebody must stop this regime from attempting to do more >> suarez: u.n. observers said some of the victims had been shot in the head. activists said pro-government gunmen did most of the killing after the shelling. the syrian government insisted rebel gunmen were to blame. the u.n. security council did not directly address that point, but member states did condemn the shelling. >> so the evidence is clear, the evidence is not murky and there is a clear footprint of the government in this massacre. >> suarez: even the syrian government's strongest allies-- china and russia-- expressed revulsion. >> ( translated ): china was shocked by the massacre that took place in houla in syria which caused the death of many civilians and we strongly condemn the cruel killings of women and children. >> suarez: the russians said syrian president bashar al- assad's bears the main responsibility for t
situation. but foreign minister sergei lavrov said both sides contributed to the killing in houla. >> ( translated ): there is no doubt that the syrian government used artillery and tanks in houla. we were notified about this by u.n. observers who visited the site of the tragedy. also there is no doubt that many bodies were found with wounds resulting from firearms at point blank range and the injuries show that people were simply tortured to death, so the guilt should be determined objectively. >> suarez: meanwhile, syrian activists reported another heavy assault in the last 24 hours had killed 41 people in hama. the intensifying violence left a u.n. cease-fire in shreds. and it sparked new calls for the u.s. to do more. republican senator john mccain spoke on sunday. >> horrible things are happening in syria. this administration has a feckless foreign policy which abandons american leadership.
>> suarez: republican presidential candidate mitt romney joined in, appealing for president obama to arm the syrian opposition. for more on the situation in syria we turn to "i.t.n."'s alex thomson, who visited the site of the massacre yesterday. i spoke to him a short while ago by phone. he's reporting from the town of homs, scene of some of the heaviest fighting of the syrian uprising. alex thomson, welcome. i understand that you were able to accompany a u.n. observer group into some of these scenes of the worst fighting. tell us what you saw and where you were. >> i went in with the u.n. and red crescent convoy into the southern area of houla yesterday. within moments of arriving we were beckoned out by some soldiers. we thought we were under arrest. it was a confused picture. then a fire fight ensued. we took cover in a building, and i discovered that close to where we had taken cover there was a blanket on the ground. i pulled the blanket off. it revealed a man way past
fighting age -- i would say at least 75, 80 years old -- who had been shot in the head. a gunshot wound to the head. i'm not a pathologist but it looked like the reason for death for him. i reached for the blanket giving him whatever dignity i could in that situation and went into the next room essentially to escape the gun fire. there there was the body of another... another blanket was laid out on the floor. under that i found the body of a little girl probably five or six years old, no more than that. she had a gunshot wound in her chest. this is only a small part of what has happened in houla. these bodies would not have been discovered by the united nations. >> suarez: over the past several weeks, the fighting has moved from place to place. why does it shift to a place like houla? is the army taking the battle to places it perceives as being-and-r antigovernment? >> i can only tell you -- and this came from an exclusive interview i did with the deputy
leader of the united nations mission to syria inside houla yesterday. he said, look, alex, we have this from two sources. both sources are entirely different places geo graphically. they don't know each other. they haven't met each other. they say the same thing. this is not the united nations' view but it's what they were told about what happened which is simply this. that last friday after prayers about 12:30 in the afternoon the syrian army began a two-hour barrage that shelled the town of houla. that was followed mid afternoon by groups of armed men, thugs, dressed in civilian clothing. they went building to building, house to house, they went family to family and they slaughtered people as they did so. it is the corroborated views of people in the town and to the east from rebels, from a town nearby that this went on at
approximately 2:00 in the morning on saturday. >> suarez: so few of them of fighting age. it seems to you that they don't mind targeting civilians, that that not what this is about, fighting another armed force. >> the pattern of modern warfare tragically is more and more it is people in the middle who are in fact being targeted. now the rebels do not escape blame here. it is a fact of the war here that is going on, that the rebels used civilian areas to fight their war. in this war as they did indeed on many occasions in libya as well, for instance. so, they are civilian areas. they are not, i guess, deliberately using civilians as shields. but they are fighting in areas where there are civilians. that's a fact. in reply to that, clearly a conventional army fighting on conventional terms is using weapons, sometimes maul arms but sometimes heavy weapons, in those areas. if you're going to do that as a means of warfare you're without question are going to kill
people. but what happened after prayers on friday seems quite obviously to have been a deliberate war crime in the sense that civilians were deliberately targeted and they were deliberately massacred. martin griffith the deputy head of the u.n. mission told me yesterday he personally had recovered yesterday the body of a woman and four children lying in a house. >> suarez: is this battle taking on a sectarian cast, alex? >> well, there is a great sectarian... this is a huge sectarian sweep to this war. it is a civil war between sunni and between shia. sections of the populations. indeed the population from which the ruling caste, if you like, comes from. that's true. but what is happening is overwhelmingly, in terms of the rebel forces, the uprising, simply a move to remove the regime. they want the assad regime
removed. now the russian more than minister has said only today that so far as russia is concerned, the great backers of this country, the only game in town for the russians is the assad peace plan which essentially safeguards the assad position so far as the rebels see it. that is unacceptable to the uprising. it's partly that. it's partly i have to say the visit of kofi annan to damascus which has provoked an upsurge in violence rather than the maintenance of what is laughingly known as a cease-fire here. >> suarez: alex thomson from itn joining us from homs, syria. alex, good to talk to you. stay safe. >> thank you very much. good night. for more on syria, and the threat to the wider region from the fighting there, visit us online, where we have a report from "time" magazine's rania abouzeid in beirut. >> woodruff: now, a butler, a banker and a growing scandal at
the vatican. margaret warner has the story. >> warner: the cloud has been gathering over st. peter's square for months, ever since january, when vatican documents began leaking, showing infighting over allegations of corruption and even descriptions of private papal meetings. then late last week, the scandal dubbed "vati-leaks" suddenly widened. the president of the vatican bank was ousted and the pope's personal butler paolo gabriele was arrested for allegedly having confidential documents in his apartment. today, the butler's lawyers said he will cooperate with the vatican's criminal investigation of the leaks. adding to the feverish speculation: new reports in italian newspapers that a cardinal, still unidentified, may be at the center of the disclosures. >> ( translated ): it is obvious that the butler is just a pawn in this case. he is nothing but a man who was
evidently dragged in by people who have a certain power. today, it is difficult to establish who that is, from a cardinal to a group of bishops, someone who was fed up with what was going on around the pope and the central government of the church. >> warner: the vatican spokesman, father federico lombardi, dismissed those assertions. >> i have to deny completely that there is any italian cardinal under suspicion in this case, as some people have said in authoritative newspapers. >> warner: pope benedict the 16th has not spoken publicly about the scandal. but, apart from the criminal probe, the pope appointed three cardinals to investigate how and why the leaking occurred. to help us understand all this, we turn to john allen, who covers the vatican for the "national catholic reporter" based in rome. he joins us tonight from denver. okay. leaked documents, a butler arrested, insider... one insider
gone, another tough financial figure gone. what really is at the heart of this? what's this about? >> margaret, good to see you and happy memorial day. look at one level this is a story about a venturis old institution that has always prized secrecy struggling to come to term s with the 21st century world in which it is quite difficult to keep things hidden. they're seeing some of their most closely guarded secrets rolld out for public view. things like document concerning vatican finances, internal policy disputes, even the pope's private correspondent. now related to that, this is also a story that very much shows us the human face of the vatican because whatever the vatican's spiritual claims it is also a government. like governments everywhere, there are sometimes power struggles. there are sometimes whistle blowers. there are even sometimes managers who quite honestly struggle to make the trains run on time. it may well be that all of that is involved in this saga. >> warner: let's start with the but
butler paolo gabriele. what does a papal butler do? how close is he to the pope? would he have had access to all of these documents that were allegedly found in his apartment. >> paolo gabriele is a 46-year-old lehman italian. he's married with three children. he and his family live in an apartment on vatican grounds. as the pope's butler -- and he was hired by the way for that position in 1998, so he began in service to john paul 2 and continued under benedict xvi. he's responsible for helping the pope with his clothes, for serving his meals, for attending to his other personal needs. for example, in the twilight of the john paul years when the pope was using a cane, paolo gabriele was the guy who would carry the cane for the pope and hand it to him when he needed it. as such he's one of a very restricted number of people -- we're talking no more than a dozen -- who would have regular, direct, daily unfettered access to the papal apartments and to the pope himself. the answer to your question,
would he have access to the documents? the answer to that question is probably yes. where the doubt enters in some people's minds given the fact that paolo gabriele is not a policy official it would have been unusual for anyone to see him in possession of these documents so the question is over such a long arc of time -- because this leak scandal really erupted in january -- could he realistically have been taking these documents in and out of the papal apartment back to his own residence to photocopy them without ever being observed? that has sown some doubt about ultimately how responsible he may be. >> warner: the substance of the documents, fairly briefly but is it fair to say that the vatican's finances are certainly a thread that connects a lot of these? >> there has really been a title... tidal wave of leaked documents. some of them have been almost fairly easy for the vatican to shoot down. an anonymous memorandum ran dumb about an alleged plot to kill
the pope that centered on a business trip a cardinal take to beijing. that almost smacks of the borgias. but when it comes to the leaked documents about vatican finances and in particular perhaps the operations of the vatican bank, they have raised serious questions about the effectiveness of the new transparency measures that benedict xvi has called for which comes at an awkward time for the vatican because it is right now trying to become certified on european white lists of countries that meet international standards in the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism. >> warner: as you said, no one is quite sure who did this, but who would have motive for this leaking? that is, whom could the leaks be aimed at getting, if there is such a thing? >> well, that, of course, is the $64,000 question. as yet, we have no solid answer to it. so we now enter the realm of speculation. but the most popular theory would be that ultimately the aim
here is to undercut the current cardinal secretary of state, an italian cardinal. the vatican has a sort of president prime minister structure in which the pope is the head of state but the secretary of state is the head of government,y effectively the prime minister. there are many inside and outside the vatican who sort of have a beef with the cardinal. in some ways on policy grounds, in other ways of issues simply of competence. whether he serves the pope well in that role. so the leading theory here would be that the factions in the vatican hostile to bertoni have been orchestrating these leaks to execute a regime change. >> warner: we have less than a minute left. in that time you talk to a lot of vatican insiders. how concerned are vatican officials you talked to that this is damaging the institution? >> well, publicly they will say that yes this is painful and unfortunately but it's business
as urban full steam ahead. privately i think they are concerned. at one level because of the damage to the vatican's external image. another is the internal cost of this. the vatican is an institution that runs on trust. this scandal quite honestly has badly frayed that climate of trust. >> warner: where it goes from here? >> well, the vatican has said the investigation is ongoing. it remains to be seen whether suspects will be named. in the meantime, the butler, paolo gabriele is the object of an investigation which could end in a trial. if he is found guilty of a criminal offense under vatican law, he could be sentenced to prison time in which case the vatican might well petition italy under its diplomatic agreements to actually execute that sentence. >> warner: john allen of the national catholic reporter, thank you. >> you bet. >> suarez: and we close with two
stories about veterans on this memorial day. first, a colorado program aims to ease the transition from military service to civilian life. 26-year-old tyler heath was marking another milestone. he is a former army infantryman, who survived two tours in iraq. heath crossed the stage this month to receive his diploma from the university of colorado at denver. it was one more journey that tyler heath's parents were grateful he had survived, especially after their son returned from iraq with post traumatic stress disorder or p.t.s.d. >> he had a serious case of p.t.s.d. when he returned from the iraq war, it was real hard. we thought we had lost the son we had raised. many people advocate for these iraq guys coming back, but you
know what, they're hard, they're really difficult to understand them and p.t.s.d. is a very scary thing. i personally think there are a lot of good words put to that, were behind you, but i don't think it is put into practice a lot. >> suarez: that is exactly what a new mentoring program created by the university of colorado denver and the city of denver's chamber of commerce is trying to do-- get behind veterans finishing their college degrees and trying to enter the workforce. university of colorado vice chancellor leanna clark: >> p.t.s.d. is a very real thing. they deal with not just transitioning into a college atmosphere which is difficult for anyone, but transitioning back into their lives, so they have many challenges they face. the g.i. bill certainly helps them out from a financial standpoint, but it doesn't give them the other, the moral support they need. nationally, 80% of them drop out
of college in their first year, only 3% graduate. >> suarez: tyler heath was aggressive in treating his post traumatic stress disorder. he completed his degree ahead of schedule. but heath describes campus life for returning veterans as very challenging. >> when you come back here this world is just completely different world. and my and a lot of other people's worlds were kind of turned upside down. it's difficult. most college students, they are discovering who they are, what they want to do. i already knew that, so it was really, really difficult. >> suarez: so the university of colorado mentor program called "boots to suits" tries to tackle another tough stumbling block for veterans-- getting jobs after college. according to the bureau of labor statistics, unemployment rates for young men who served on active duty since september 11 is 29%, well above the 17% unemployment for non-veteran men of the same age.
>> vets have so many skill sets that they have learned in the service, that they don't always know how to translate that into job speak, so they can break down a machine gun in 30 seconds, but what does that mean to a potential employer? so a lot of it was talking to them about how they translate their skills into something that an employer might be interested in. >> suarez: before he signed up for the boots to suits program, heath flooded local businesses with his resume but couldn't get any attention. >> it's hard to get calls back. it's difficult to send your resume out there and just get no responses, with all your awards and your citations from being in the military and having a college degree and it's like some kid sitting next to you who is about to graduate and he's got a $40,000 a year job and it's just like, "what am i doing wrong? why am i not getting the job offers? why isn't anyone calling me back." people are definitely a little wary about hiring veterans. >> suarez: heath was matched with volunteer mentor richard lewis, c.e.o. of r.t.l. networks, an information technology company.
lewis agrees, job recruiters few of whom are vets may not be comfortable trying to find a use for military skills and may be skittish about reports they've heard of stress disorders among veterans who've served multiple tours in combat zones. >> we've been extending to multiple wars. these veterans are doing a wonderful job and they're coming home and a lot of them are getting lost. most of them getting a degree but then they're still stuck. many of them having a hard time translating their experience into language and vernacular that corporate america understands and appreciates. if you're a soldier, you're breaking down doors, and setting perimeters, and things of that nature. it's just hard to translate that into language that's not concerning, you know for lack of a better word, to corporate america, recruiters. >> suarez: when heath joined the military, he was just 18. he's never owned a suit. >> lewis, i always tell people to dress for the job that you want verses the job that you have. >> suarez: an air force veteran himself, richard lewis remembers the unease he felt rejoining
civilian life. >> as a grown man then coming into corporate america, i remember the anxiety, the fear, the culture shock of becoming a civilian. in many ways, the military is like a family, and you feel you're leaving home, you're leaving everything you know and going to corporate america. it's a very lonely feeling and a lot of people just don't adjust well. so just learning to navigate is a challenge. >> yellow is a good color, especially with a dark suit. hold up this suit. that's professional look, that's a confident look. >> suarez: lewis says his advice was often subtle. >> it just takes a little hand holding, kind of let you know, "hey, everything is going to be fine. it's not as bad as you thought. nothing to be afraid of and here's how you succeed." >> he taught me a lot about networking, how to sort of run through a room and meet certain people and how to portray certain images depending on the setting. it was really, really helpful. he helped me understand what it
is the industry wanted. >> suarez: boots to suits is a small program with only 40 participants the first semester. the hope is it can become a national model. denver metro chamber of commerce president, kelly brough. >> you know a lot of these kids literally have been responsible for you know a piece of equipment that has the value of you know half a million dollars, a billion dollars, and so they'll have a sense of commitment to an organization, they have a sense of importance of what they're doing. i think they bring discipline. i think they bring loyalty, which might often be a little bit lost in today's workforce. >> suarez: last week, it all paid off for tyler heath. he was hired by colorado's anchor network solutions to provide i.t. support for small businesses. his new boss, anchor c.e.o. vince tinnirello admired how heath weaved his military skills into an interview. >> tyler did a pretty impressive
job of explaining his experience in customer service of working with iraqi civilians. i thought it was a, it was a great interpretation and, very creative. for me, it's the being respectful with our customers, "yes, yes ma'ams, no sirs," being on time, being professional, being dressed professionally, carrying yourself in a professional manner. those are the things that really transfer over. >> suarez: tinnirello says the stigma iraqi and afghanistan veterans face when searching for employment is real. >> i think people are afraid of what they're coming back with. i sense and hear a lot of we support the troops, but when it comes to actually hiring them there's a fear of what they might be coming back with and i feel very strongly of we ask them to go make sacrifices for us, they didn't ask to come back with p.t.s.d. i feel like we have to take a little bit of risk. he took a huge risk for us, so is it that much of a risk for me? i'm willing to do that. i think it's the right thing to do. >> suarez: for his part, tyler
heath says he is ready to report for his new duty. find out what tyler heath did to help overcome his p.t.s.d. that's on the rundown page on our website. >> woodruff: and to our second report on returning veterans. an award-winning documentary follows a marine from the battlefield in afghanistan to a troubled life back home in north carolina. jeffrey brown has the story. brown: in the summer of 2009 the marines of second battalion 8th marine regiment pushed hard against the taliban in an effort to regain control of helmand province. embedded was danfung dennis, a news photographer shooting video for the first time to capture the fighting against an elusive in and around villages where the welcome from residents was often anything but warm. dennis' camera caught the combat life and stress of one marine in particular, sergeant nathan harris and followed him home
after a bullet shattered his hip and broke his leg. dennis went further essentially embedding himself into the home life of the 25-year-old from north carolina. his difficult readjustment and growing dependence on medication and his loving but occasionally tense relations with his young wife ashley. weaving together scenes from the war and the home front, danfung dennis' film won a top award at the sun dance film festival received an academy award nomination and airs tonight on the pbs series. danfung dennis joins me now. welcome and congratulations on this. >> thank you for having me. brown: i understand that you did not set out to make a film. right? how did this come about. >> i had been working as a photojournalist in iraq and afghanistan for several years. even though my images being published i felt like they were losing their impact. after so many years of war, society was numb to these pictures. so i moved into video. in july of 2009 i was embedded
with echo company of the second marine division during the largest helicopter born assault since vietnam. 4,000 marines were being dropped into an enemy stronghold. we were dropped 18 kilometers behind enemy lines. i brought with me a custom camera system. i was able to shoot very high quality cinematic video. >> brown: but what was it you were trying to do that you felt you couldn't do before? >> i wanted to use new technology to try to bring people closer to this story. i actually showed them what was happening on the ground. >> brown: you get real close. we're watching as you're running along the soldiers amid the shooting. >> on the first day we were surrounded by taliban fighters. the fighting was extremely heavy. it focused around this pile of rubble that became known as machine gun hell. after the first day one marine was killed. dozens had collapsedded from exhaustion. nearly all of us had run out of water. that's when a marine handed me
his last bottle of water. this was sergeant nathan harris. this is where we first met. i could tell he was a courageous leader, a professional. and i followed his platoon as they pushed further. >> brown: in fact, he as we learn is on his third tour of combat duty. and as he tells... as he says in the film, early on he had a kind of gung-ho warrior sensibility, still does to some degree but now as we meet him, things are got, as he says, hard. i mean things have really taken a turn. >> he was trained from a young age to join the marine corps. his father had always wanted him to fight, had trained him to be a warrior. he was a champion wrestler in high school. he signed up right at the age of 18. this was his third deployment. >> brown: a couple of striking things about the film. i mean among many things. the access that you got. i mean both on the battlefield and at home. was that... did that happen
organically or did you have to work hard at that? how did that happen? >> there's always mistrust between a tightly knit military unit and an outside journalist. after you go through difficult experiences they learn to trust you and you learn to trust them. i think i was able to get that type of access back at home especially because i had been there in afghanistan with that platoon and with nathan. >> brown: when you found him coming back home when he was injured you broached the subject or you raised the idea of actually sort of watching his life as it unfolded? >> i didn't actually know the story would follow just him. >> brown: you didn't know at that time? >> i just followed it and it unfolded. i was back in north carolina six months after that first initial offensive with the battalion coming home. it was this emotional reunion with marines stepping off the buses to their waiting families. i quickly realized that nathan didn't get off the bus. i asked the men, "where is sergeant harris?"
they said, "he was hit two weeks ago." he had been shot in the hip by machine gun rounds. i called him up. he was just being released from a naval hospital. he was in extreme pain and distress and feeling quite guilty for having left his men behind. yet he invited me back up to his hometown in north carolina. he introduced me to his friends and family and his wife ashley as "this guy was out there with me." i was accepted into this rural baptist community. >> brown: the other striking thing about this striking documentary is the way you weave back and forth between the war and the home front. i want to show... it's hard to capture in a short film but i want to show a short clip. we're seeing sergeant harris first out in the battle feel field and the stress. then you quickly switch to a scene of him and his wife in the car. after they visited the doctor. let's roll that. >> i need you to go up there and the [bleep] bag, talk to these guys and find out what the
[bleep] is going on. do you think i'm lying about it when i tell you i'm getting sick? >> no. just leave me alone. it's stupid. >> if you insist. just leave me alone. i was not mean to you. a little bit. okay. all i said was i didn't want you telling the doctor that we need to switch it to something else. i didn't want you messing me up and not letting me get my medicine which i know you won't do. but you even told the other doctor. i mean, i know you're just talking. >> tell what doctor what? he doctor about me switching medicines to something else. >> you said i even told that other doctor something. >> i didn't want you to tell the pain doctor that and have them
mess me all up. >> tell the pain doctor what? what did i tell him. >> switch my medicine. i didn't tell anybody to switch your medicine. i didn't say a word to the doctor. what are you talking about? >> flying off the handle. i told you that. you don't listen to a thing i ever say. >> brown: he's accusing her of colluding in a sense with the doctor. he's showing the stress. one of the really interesting things is this technique of going back and forth. but it's almost a sort of film quality where it's like you're suggesting that what's going on in his head. what has led to the scene at home we just see what sort of led to it on the battlefield. were you conscious of that? i don't know, were you wary of that because you can almost go too far with that? >> i never actually sat down with nathan and askd him what was going through your head right at this moment.
actually brought in a lot of my own personal experiences of going to war and coming home from it. what i realized was that the fighting doesn't end when these men come back. it just continues in a different way. it's very personal, very psychological. it becomes an entirely different battle, whether it's with medication, with pain or relationships. it's an entirely different struggle. >> brown: your own experience. i mean how much of this is based on your own experience of being in war and then having to deal with what you saw? >> i tried to bring in a lot of my own personal experiences of that difficulty of coming back to society that has very little understanding of what you've just been through. you're coming from this world of life and death and blood and dust so one where it seems like everyone is shopping. that's very difficult to deal with. >> brown: that's a scene where he goes... that's one of the remarkable scenes where he drives into the shopping mall, right, and just says, i'd rather be back at war. it's just hard to find a parking place for one thing.
>> i think a lot of men and women that return from war feel like that. it's simpler over there. back here, you have bills and relationships and all of that seems much more complex. so i wanted to try to bring these two worlds together of the battlefields of afghanistan and the complexitiesy of back at home and blend them together. i use sounds and images to try to do that. >> brown: you stayed in touch with sergeant harris, i guess. what has happened to him and his family. >> we've had an incredible journey together. he's still an active duty marine at camp lee jeun and still together with his wife ashley. >> brown: part of what he says in this film is he wants to go back. that's not going to happen i guess. >> i think he'll always want to be that infantry grunt that goes back. he's had the realization that he won't go. he's going to have to stay at home and find a new identity. if he's not that warrior, who is he? i think that's his next struggle >> brown: the film is "hell and back again."
danfung dennis, thanks so much. >> thanks for having me. woodruff: a quick correction before we go. in our conversation about battle ground states earlier we said the red and blue states shown on that electoral map reflect the current state of the race. that's a mistake. that map was based on the 2008 results. our apologies. >> suarez: again, the major developments of the day: president obama and mitt romney honored the nation's fallen on this memorial day, taking time out from the campaign. outrage grew in the middle east and around the world after a weekend massacre of more than 100 people in syria. online, we have one more story about the military. this one about the dogs who work sniffing bombs, helping injured troops and more. kwame holman explains. >> holman: what happens when those dogs complete their service?
they used to be euthanized, but now many are adopted. find out more on our world page. on our politics page, watch a series of videos called "listen to me" about what concerns voters in the battleground state of virginia. and on our business desk, it's paul solman's turn to ask you a question, "would you withdraw your money from a greek bank?" all that and more is on our web site: newshour.pbs.org. ray? >> suarez: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. on tuesday, we'll talk with author toni morrison. she will be awarded the presidential medal of freedom in a white house ceremony tomorrow. i'm ray suarez. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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